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111 of 114 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Makes Lincoln Human
I have read (and earlier reviewed) David Herbert Donald's biography of Lincoln and I found it to be more comprehensive than this book. But, then again, Donald's biography is well over 800 pages whereas this one is a mere 440 or so. With more brevity, Oates, nonetheless does a great job and he humanizes Lincoln as well as does Donald.
There are some shortcomings,...
Published on July 31, 2001 by David E. Levine

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37 of 44 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A decent portrayal of Lincoln, but not a great one
Abraham Lincoln is one of the most written-about men in history. There are scores of biographies, profiles, analyses, everything to do with this great man. Because of this, it is difficult to find a good, comprehensive work that details his life adequately and faithfully. In this book, Stephen B. Oates gives a good representation of Lincoln, giving a pretty good...
Published on March 11, 2003 by bixodoido


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111 of 114 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Makes Lincoln Human, July 31, 2001
By 
David E. Levine (Peekskill , NY USA) - See all my reviews
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I have read (and earlier reviewed) David Herbert Donald's biography of Lincoln and I found it to be more comprehensive than this book. But, then again, Donald's biography is well over 800 pages whereas this one is a mere 440 or so. With more brevity, Oates, nonetheless does a great job and he humanizes Lincoln as well as does Donald.
There are some shortcomings, however. For example, Oates does not delve very deeply into Lincoln's strong antipathy towards his father, nor does he go into great depth as to his strong love of his stepmother. Likewise, he does not recognize Licoln's first love for what it was, as does Donald. Rather, he treats Ann Rutledge merely as a close friend.
Both Donald and Oates do a good job in showing Lincoln to be a master politician but, with more pages, Donald is able to more fully illustrate this. But, many people don't have the patience to read a legnthy tome. Although I think that Donald's biography is the single best one of Lincoln, for a work half of that legnth, this fine biography is five stars.
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69 of 74 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the 3 Best 1 Volume Biographies About Lincoln, March 20, 2004
By 
Kenneth P. Cash (Independence, Ohio United States) - See all my reviews
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I have been studying Abraham Lincoln for nearly 40 years. Many Lincoln scholars consider WITH MALICE TOWARD NONE by Stephen B. Oates one of three BEST one-volume biographies of Abraham Lincoln ever written to date. The other two are LINCOLN by David Herbert Donald and ABRAHAM LINCOLN: A BIOGRAPHY by Benjamin P. Thomas.
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37 of 40 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent biography of an incredibly complex man., January 15, 2004
By 
Roger J. Buffington (Huntington Beach, CA United States) - See all my reviews
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"With Malice Towards None" is a very creditable work and a fine attempt to explain the author's view of Abraham Lincoln. Oates views Lincoln as a genuinely good man, highly ambitious, self-made, and first and foremost: a politician. Like all politicians who are heads of state, Lincoln had to grapple with the issues of his day. In his day, however, the issues were unusually intractable, difficult, and complex, such that the nation was unable to solve them through established institutions. It took an actual Civil War to decide whether slavery in America must go, whether America is first and foremost a union of united States, or whether it was a Union of essentially sovereign single states. These were and are great issues, and the greatness of Lincoln is that he stood in the center of these issues, spent his entire presidency grappling with them, and ultimately, it was his unswerving leadership, not perfect but great, that ultimately led America to resolution of these issues.
Oates shows us that Lincoln was a politician. He wheedled, compromised, and was carried by great events as often as he shaped them. This does nothing to take away from the man who, along with Washington, ranks as doubtless one of our two greatest presidents. While opposing slavery, Lincoln was ready to compromise with it, at least sometimes to some extent. Oates does a good job of explaining this in a non-revisionist way that shows respect to Lincoln and to history.
Oates' writing is clear, and his research thorough. This is not a perfect book in that it is not a complete view of Lincoln. No 400 or so page book about this complicated man could achieve that. On the other hand, Oates portrays Lincoln brilliantly, and with insight, as a gifted leader and politician in an incredibly difficult time.
I would have enjoyed more discussion of some of Lincoln's more extreme actions, his bending (some would say breaking) of the Constitution, and the extremes to which he went to achieve ultimate military victory for the North. Oates does touch on this, but more would have been welcome.
An excellent book about a difficult and complex subject. Recommended.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Most readable book ever written on Lincoln, January 26, 2000
IMO, this is "the" biography of Abraham Lincoln. While I consider David H. Donald's bio of Lincoln to be slightly more sophisticated and detailed, Stephen Oates' bio of Lincoln is the most enjoyable and interesting to read. Prof. Oates has a smooth writing style that tackles complex issues and makes them easy to understand. He never gets bogged down in boring, hard-to-understand statistics or details.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely amazing book!, July 29, 2004
By 
Susan Simpson (Salt Lake City, UT United States) - See all my reviews
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I sure wish I had read this book when I had to take American History in high school. This makes the civil war in general, and Abraham Lincoln in particular, come so alive. The novel format is perfect, with it's short sections and chapters. You learn history without feeling like you need to memorize dates and battlefield movements.

It brings home the point that we were very fortunate that Lincoln was our President at that time.

Strongly recommend this book.
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27 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding Book for General Readers, July 25, 2005
This is an excellent biography of Lincoln. I own this book, and I would like to respond to the claim that the author plagiarized when writing this book.

What happened is that the author chose to write a good book for the general reader while still trying to be highly authoritative. The book is well researched, drawing on the extensive amount of knowledge about Lincoln. At the back of the book he included footnotes to cite the research he used, but he only listed the page of his book where he used the material and not the specific paragraph. He did this to make his writing smoother and to write a good book for the general reader. So he did not steal anything. Unfortunately, this looseness with his citations resulted in mild charges of plagiarism.

The plagarism charges were totally refuted. The people making the charges seemed to be simply trying to make the papers. A panel of historians reviewd the plagerism charges and found them to be completely unsubstantiated.

The author is an expert on the era. His work is excellent. This is not a work of plagerism.

I felt that the author succeeds brilliantly in portraying Lincoln. On the one hand, the book is very authoritative and factual. On the other hand, it reads well. I highly recommend this book.

Lincoln grew up poor and distanced himself from his childhood. He became a very successful lawyer. He had his failures and successes. As president, he seemed to many as a dumb baboon. So many things went wrong. He was continuously frustrated that he early general would not fight. He had to juggle the wishes of the radical Republicans with those of the conservative Republicans. Then there were the abolitionists and the Democrats. In the end, his leadership was excellent.

This book is beautifully written, very informative, easy to read, and at times moving. You get a great sense of Lincoln's struggles and the distressing issues at hand You get to know most of the other players during Lincoln's epic moment in time. In my opinion, the author did not plagiarize in the true sense of that word but simply told the story with authority, yet in a way that is easy to read.

Highly recommended for teenagers and up.

I also recommend the most authoritative book on the Civil War "Battle Cry of Freedom."
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37 of 44 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A decent portrayal of Lincoln, but not a great one, March 11, 2003
By 
Abraham Lincoln is one of the most written-about men in history. There are scores of biographies, profiles, analyses, everything to do with this great man. Because of this, it is difficult to find a good, comprehensive work that details his life adequately and faithfully. In this book, Stephen B. Oates gives a good representation of Lincoln, giving a pretty good account of his life and not trying to raise the man to deity (as others have done). Despite this, however, there are several flaws in this book that make it only of average quality.

Oates commits what I consider to be the unpardonable sin in biography--he attempts to get inside Lincoln's head. One of the necessary qualities of a good biographer is that he or she should not try to psychoanalyze the subject, should not assume he knows what was going on inside the subject's head, and should certainly not embellish the account with a bunch of supposed conversations and feelings which are more the fabrication of the author than the feelings of the subject. Oates breaks all of these rules.
The most annoying thing about the book is that Oates will paraphrase what he thinks Lincoln said. He may give a short quotation, but then he closes the quote and proceeds to adlib what he assumes Lincoln would say, speaking in the first person as though he were the President himself. He uses the pronoun `I' in his own narrative, when he should be using `he.' If you can get over Oates pretending to speak for Lincoln himself throughout most of the book, the rest of the account is pretty decent. But I had a hard time getting past that.

For a 400 or so page biography, this book covers the subject moderately well, though not excellently. Many men, such as Jefferson Davis, Stonewall Jackson, or Admiral Farragut, are barely mentioned, as if Lincoln had nothing to do with them at all. It would have added greatly to the account to have a more detailed description of the Civil War, and about Lincoln's counterparts in the South (such as Davis). Still, this is a pretty good book, though far from definitive in any way. With the mountains of work available on this great man, there's got to be something better out there.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lincoln presented as a human and a Patriot, October 3, 2000
By 
Jeremy Thompson (Rochester, New York USA) - See all my reviews
I was raised to have an unwaivering love for my country. But as I grew older I began to question my country's history. While taking a US History course in college we were told to read this book. I thought I knew who Lincoln was; I was deeply mistaken and I have never gotten a stronger sense of the struggle of the Civil War. Stephen B. Oates portrays him as a great Patriot and troubled but great president. Most importantly we see Lincoln as a human being. Through his writings and the memories of those who knew him best we get a real insight into Lincoln the man as oppossed to what we all learned growing up - Lincoln the myth. This book is required reading for anyone wishing to learn more about the struggles that the fathers and sons of this country went through to create a "land of the free". You will also come away with the feeling that this nation still has a lot of growing to do and Lincoln's work is not yet finished.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable for teens, July 7, 2000
By 
Matt Bryce (Salt Lake City, UT USA) - See all my reviews
I'm 16 years old and somewhat of a history buff. For some reason, I decided to read a biography of Lincoln even though I had never read a bio of anyone else. After I started reading Oates' book, I couldn't put it down. I reads so much like a novel that you often don't even think of it as a biography, even though you get a great amount of knowledge out of it. After reading this book, I've had such a great appreciation for Lincoln, our greatest president, and I've read a couple more bios on him since. If this book can be appealing to teenagers, anyone will love it.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Good Introduction to Lincoln, April 1, 2006
I have read a number of Lincoln biographies, and this is one of the better ones. Oates has a knack for getting to the heart of his subject. Lincoln is presented here in a well-rounded way. Oates covers pretty much all the bases-touching on the major themes of Lincoln's life-while throwing in some very interesting and obscure details. In this book Lincoln is human, accessible, and very real. This is a good read, and a surprisingly quick read. It's amazing how much information Oates was able to pack into a book that is not over-long. If you are looking for an introduction to the life of America's greatest president, this is a good choice.

Richard Salva--author of Soul Journey from Lincoln to Lindbergh [UNABRIDGED]
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With Malice Toward None: A Life of Abraham Lincoln
With Malice Toward None: A Life of Abraham Lincoln by Stephen B. Oates (Paperback - February 7, 2036)
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